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Parts of Smith Rock State Park will close during bridge construction

FILE: Smith Rock State Park in Deschutes County, Ore. on May 16, 2020.
Stephani Gordon
FILE: Smith Rock State Park in Deschutes County, Ore. on May 16, 2020.

Climbers and hikers visiting Central Oregon’s iconic Smith Rock State Park later this month will find some areas inaccessible.

For up to six weeks, beginning Monday, the bridge crossing the Crooked River will be closed for replacement.

The closure will mean some trails and climbing areas cannot be reached by visitors.

“We know that this bridge closure will have an impact on our park users, but our current footbridge must be replaced,” park manager Matt Davey said in a statement Monday.

The bridge was last fixed around 30 years ago and has significant wear, according to parks officials. Crews plan to install a wider pedestrian bridge that will give easier access to the park for rescue crews.

The Bend Bulletin reported a climber needed to be rescued as recently as Sunday after a 20-foot fall near Smith Rock.

Replacing the bridge will mean that rescue crews will not have easy access to some areas of the park during the construction, and parks officials have advised visitors to not cross the Crooked River to reach those areas. That includes the Summit, Misery Ridge and River trails.

“Fortunately, we have many areas of the park for visitors to explore that don’t use this bridge, including Rim Rock Trail, Homestead Trail, Canyon Trail and North Point loop,” Davey said in his statement.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department also discouraged people from trying to wade across the Crooked River while the bridge is closed because it could disturb wildlife habitats.

Officials are hoping to have the park fully open again by Sept. 22.
Copyright 2023 Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Ryan Haas